Russia, Egypt pledge to expand cooperation

Russia and Egypt pledged Tuesday to expand cooperation in various spheres as top leaders of the countries met in Sochi.

After talks with visiting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al- Sisi, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters that the Customs Union, a trade bloc grouping Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, was mulling over the creation of a free trade zone with Cairo.

In particular, the two sides have agreed to ease access for Egyptian products, especially agricultural ones, to the Russian market, Putin said.

“Egypt has already increased supplies of such (agricultural) products to our markets by 30 percent and is ready to increase it by another 30 percent in the near future,” RIA Novosti news agency quoted him as saying.

The remarks came as Russia slapped an agricultural imports ban against the United States and its allies over their sanctions on Moscow. Russian authorities have said it would take one or two months to find substitutes.

Sisi, who was on his first official visit to Russia after winning presidential elections in May, said Russia could actively be involved in his country’s multi-billion-U.S.-dollar “new Suez Canal” project.

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